Trying times

Krysta
Krysta Carroll
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"The numbers that we had for this year's Salmon Festival exceeded any that we've ever had," Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins said during a town council meeting on Tuesday.

"With that certainly come some challenges that I think we were able to overcome."

Issues were worked through thanks to the many volunteers, town staff, and council, he said.

"I think it's important at this time that we all sing from the same song book and make sure the same message gets out there that if there are issues that we know of, these issues are going to be corrected. Council will be proactive and we will meet...before this council finishes up and go through the emails...and get a just of what seems to be coming up all the time and we'll address those issues and deal with them," he said.

Three groups that made this year’s Salmon Festival a huge success “under circumstances that were, at times, quite challenging,” Mayor Al Hawkins said, were recognized during a Grand Falls-Windsor town council meeting on Tuesday. Pictured, from left, Mayor Hawkins; Peggy Barker, a paramedic with Central Health who led the way for the medical tent at the mega concert; Captain Gary Janes of the Grand Falls-Windsor 842 Bomber Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets; and Roger Goodie of Exploits Search and Rescue.

"I can guarantee you that whatever happens I don't think there will ever be a shortage of water on the field again. That should never have happened. It happened, and you deal with it. And that's what we'll do. We'll deal with it and we'll move on."

Hawkins said with mega concerts there's always going to be something come up.

The first year Council did the mega concert, there were issues they corrected, he said, the same for the second.

"The third year we had some issues, we'll deal with them," Hawkins said. "I think that overall the economic impact, the social, the cultural impact, that the Salmon Festival has on this town, central Newfoundland, or even the province, I think it's something that we should be proud of.

"This is something that we take great pride in, and unfortunately I think that too much negative publicity got out there, and unfortunately it was targeted to the town. I guess when you have a festival in your town, then the name of the town is associated with that, and with that comes certain responsibilities."

Since this year's Toyota Salmon Festival Concert July 13, there has been much talk surrounding issues people said they had, including what is being called 'the water issue' in 35-degree temperatures, and an over-crowed VIP section.

Having said that, Hawkins said, despite of some of the negativity that has been out there, positive emails were also received, which is important.

"It depends on which side of the field you were on I guess would be how people would see it," he said.

The past few weeks has been one of the most trying times since the Grand Falls-Windsor council was elected, Hawkins said.

"We were elected as council and that's part of what we expect to get, whether it's a pat on the back or criticism that's part of what council is all about," Hawkins said.

"One of the unfortunate things about it is a lot of our staff were exposed to that type of negativity."

Hawkins thanked the staff for all their hard work and effort.

"We started on Friday morning with about a foot and a half of water on that field and over half of the field was pretty much completely covered, and within that day, every possible human resource that we had was working on that field to make sure it was ready for Saturday, which was absolutely unbelievable," he said.

"With all the issues, problems and things we had to deal with, they really did go above and beyond what they were expected. In the end, this concert was a very successful concert."

For a concert of its magnitude, Hawkins said, with 25,000 people in the community, he do not believe there was a single incident of a legal matter, other than a few minor issues, and the number of incidents at the medical tent on Centennial Field were 77, with seven being ambulanced for extra attention.

This year's festival, and any of the type, would not be possible without volunteers, he said.

"This community has been noted for many, many years for volunteerism that people give," Hawkins said.

Which is why, he said, it was a pleasure to make presentations to three groups that were effective in making sure things ran rather smoothly.

Exploits Search and Rescue, the medical tent team made up of volunteers from the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre, Freake' Ambulance Service Ltd., and St. John's Ambulance, and Gary Janes and the 842 Air Cadets Bomber Squadron who cleaned up the field after the event, were presented with what Hawkins called small tokens of appreciation during the meeting.

"It certainly don't cover the hours of work that you put in, but we do appreciate," he said.

 

As for the numbers, Hawkins said, they do not yet have anything exact, however, they are saying there was in access of 25,000 people on the field at the mega concert on July 13.

Again, without actual numbers, he believes there was somewhere around 21,000 to 22,000 actual tickets sold, though nothing is firm.

"Then of course you have your sponsors and tickets that they purchased as part of their sponsorship and all that kind of stuff," Hawkins said. 'They have to get them all back from the Needs Stores, and it takes some time to get them all collected back and all the numbers all crossed off and all that kind of stuff."

Last year there were 16,000-plus tickets sold, he said.

Financially, he added, they are unsure how they did, as the show was really expensive to put off.

"What we're just doing now is we're trying to get all the numbers put together and determine the cost and then we'll see what the end result is, but we think that we did OK, but we don't know exactly what yet because we don't have all the numbers put together."

It's probably going to take another couple weeks, Hawkins said.

"The way our contract is, Mike, our town manager, is the key person when it comes to settling out the show with SRO, and they have a guy that's responsible as well. The two of them sit down, do all the cost, and then they find out the actual ticket sales, cost of production and then finally what the end result will be," Hawkins said.

The Town invests 25 per cent into the entertainment package, Hawkins explained, and pays to secure the venue, which are offset and comes out of any profits that are made.

"That's why all the costs need to be in and everything needs to be invoiced out and all that sort of thing before we're able to get a really good final decision on what exactly the concert made," Hawkins said.

Through all Salmon Festival reports may not get in until later, Hawkins said he believes they are in a better position to be able to get costs done up fairly quickly.

"We're probably putting all of our efforts into getting the show costs all done and getting all that settled away."

"Salmon Festival is a gem for Grand Falls-Windsor, it's a gem for the province because when you look at the economic spinoff from that alone, the business people in the community who benefit from the Salmon Festival, is absolutely phenomenal."

He added the town has taken a hit with the negativity, no matter which venue of the media, and they have to deal with the issues.

"Unfortunately some of the things that happened were out of our control as a Town. We provide the venue for this and some of the things that were really not within out control," Hawkins said. "Overall I think it was a great success and certainly look forward to next year. I don't know how we're going to top (this) next year. That's a challenge we'll have and we'll deal with that when we get down and start discussing plans for next year."

 

Organizations: Grand Falls-Windsor council, Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre, Ambulance Service Needs Stores

Geographic location: Newfoundland, St. John's, Grand Falls

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Recent comments

  • Jason Woodford
    August 06, 2013 - 17:29

    @Wally: Not sure if we're referring to the same thing, but the tent you're speaking of seems to be the Front-of-House audio console, as well as some lighting - a necessary evil of live sound. It could have been smaller perhaps, but there is still much equipment that needs shelter. Logistic and service issues aside, it was a great concert. I do wonder, however, if the whole VIP section idea is a poor fit for any such large outdoor concert. Also, allowing patrons to bring their own sealed bottled water should be a given.

  • wally ploughman
    August 05, 2013 - 20:05

    I won't comment on the water shortage, we all know what a mess that was. I will comment on the food venues that set up. Having only one concession stand for everybody was a bit much. I had to get in a line up for French fries then another line up for a hamburger and yet another line up to get something to drink , a bit much so far as I'm concerned. Having several concession stands where you could purchase all food and drink would be a better ideal .Keeping the beer tents separate from these concessions like they had would be great which by the way I don't think they ran out of beer, strange you could get enough beer to get drunk and not run out. Another thing that bothered me was that you had the tent that was selling t-shirts ,caps, etc. set up in front of the VIP section and blocked the view of many people .Couldn't this tent be set up elsewhere where it wouldn't obstruct everybody's view ? It was around 7:00 and the washrooms were out of toilet tissue, and while I was in the line up for my turn to go there was a lot of unhappy people and a lot of remarks that I won't repeat on here. I'm not sure if you heard abut that, but more than likely you did. Seems to me there was a lot of poor organization there somewhere. On a lighter note, you did have a great line up of entertainment and hopefully next year won't be a repeat of this.